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About The Production

Principal photography began on November 22, 1999, in Lemont, Illinois, which was used as the rural town where Stiles' character lives until her mother dies. The production filmed for a day in Lemont High School and used more than 100 Lemont students as extras before moving on to Chicago.

Madden says: "Chicago is a city rich in character and color, and rife with racial conflict. Just by its sheer geography, it's a city enormously divided. You have the North Side, principally white and wealthy, and the South Side, which is rough and dangerous, all connected by el trains. These sharply demarcated neighborhoods worked well for the duality we were pursuing throughout the film — the duality of the white girl and black guy, the duality of ballet vs. hip-hop and the small town vs. the big city."

Locations chosen for the film included the regal Chicago Theater, the Schubert Theater and the Athenaeum Theater, where Sara's various ballet auditions were filmed. The production also visited Union Station (made famous by director Brian De Palma in "The Untouchables"), the Chicago Academy for the Arts (which made its big-screen debut in the film), the omnipresent el trains, several of the city's depressed West Side neighborhoods and two Chicago public schools: Lucy Flowers High School on the city's West Side and Wendell Phillips High School (alma mater to music giant Nat King Cole) on the South Side.

Sara's father's home was a run-down flat on the South Side's South Sawyer Street, with the el train roaring only 100 feet away. Carter and company filmed their final scene (an all-night shoot) in the shadows of Chicago's skyline just as the sun illuminated the magnificent brick-and-glass structures on the morning of February 20, 2000.


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